Eugene residents react to bin Laden death with suspicion, unease
By Haley Hirai
Staff Writer, J361 Blog
EUGENE, Ore. — As they watched on television or found out from friends on Facebook, residents of Eugene’s Amazon neighborhood met the news of Osama bin Laden’s death with suspicion, unease, and dismay at Americans’ joyous celebrations.
Residents shared fears of retaliation, along with discomfort with the killing, disposal of the body, and ensuing national celebrations. Concerns about the humanity of the whole situation prevailed in the neighborhood, as residents were unsure how to justify reactions to the killing of another human being.
Jessica Guillen, an employee at the Hilyard Street Burrito Amigos, found out about bin Laden’s death on Facebook. One of her friends posted a photo of bin Laden. “I was like ‘really?’ Be respectful. The dead need to be left alone, even though they were bad people,” Guillen said. “What happened, happened. There’s nothing we can do. We can’t change it. We can’t change time. It changes us.”
Guillen believes that it was time for bin Laden to be captured, but not necessarily killed, which she predicts will bring “more problems…more war, and more soldiers from the U.S. being killed”. Guillen had hoped that bin Laden would have been caught alive and served time in Guantanamo.
Brenda, a customer outside Albertsons on 30th Avenue who requested that her last name remain anonymous, echoed Guillen’s concerns about respecting the dead. She watched coverage of bin Laden’s death on ABC, but did not watch the subsequent celebrations, which she views as “poor things” in “extremely poor taste”.
“I realize that he was one of the catalysts for 9/11, but he wasn’t the only player. He wasn’t the only one. It’s like them celebrating a hanging of one of our military men or women,” Brenda said. “He’s a human being. He’s got a mom and dad.”
Deeper concerns and theories about the truth plagued Greg Packebush, a customer at The Beanery on Hilyard Street. Packebush’s biggest fear is that bin Laden’s death will be used as a “pawn” to engage in a war with Pakistan. Packebush found out about the death on CNN after his roommate received a text about the news. He also heard swirling rumors that bin Laden had been “possibly dead for 10 years on ice”, and the U.S. was just waiting for an ideal time to break the news.
“I don’t think what actually they said happened, happened at all,” said Packebush. He harbors suspicions about the oceanic body disposal, which he said didn’t make any sense.
Packebush heard about, but didn’t watch the celebrations, and is “sketched out” that a large retaliatory attack looms in the future. He wishes people would see past the initial reaction to celebrate, and think about what the historic event actually means for the future of our country.
“It’s all a game, and I think we’re getting played,” he said.